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Chapter Three

Black Sabboth

 

            The day had finally arrived.  Ranma and Akane were excited beyond belief.  Ranma had managed to take care of most the baggage that held him down during their first attempt, and now they were going to do it.  They were finally getting married!  They had decided on a western style wedding (mostly because Akane liked the wedding dress better).  They had even found a place for everyone in the wedding (even if it was tied to one of the support posts). 

 

They held the ceremony in the dojo.  All the guests were seated in rows from the front to rear of the dojo leaving an aisle down the center.  Ranma stood at the front of the dojo and took a look around the dojo.  Happosai had been gagged and tied to one of the side pillars so that everyone could keep an eye on him.  Kuno was seated in the audience next to Nabiki.  She had been keeping a tight leash on him as late. She figured that there was no better way to get money than to get it from the source. Kodachi was seated in the audience as well. Counseling and lithium treatments had done wonders for her.  She was even well enough to pick up flower arranging in colors other than black.  She had provided all the beautiful flowers for the wedding.  Shampoo and Mousse were sitting on the opposite side with Cologne.  Ranma had finally been able to defeat her and call the marriage with Shampoo off.  Shampoo didn’t like it one bit, but Mousse was there to try to take Ranma’s place.  She still had not accepted him, but the barriers were falling.  Many other friends and former enemies were seated in the crowd.  Ranma was amazed what peace he could make just by professing his love for Akane.

 

Ranma turned and looked to his best man.  Hibiki Ryoga hadn’t been a problem since the battle with Saffron.  He had accepted Ranma and Akane’s love and went on with his life, but he had a little help.  Unryuu Akari had a made a change in Ryoga for the better. Their relationship had blossomed into a great love affair.  In fact, they were going to be married themselves a month hence.  After Akari had straightened out Ryoga, he and Ranma had become friends.

 

The music started and the maid of honor walked forward.  Kuonji Ukyou had accepted that she would only be a friend to Ranma after he had made his love for Akane public.  She had fallen into a depression and would have probably taken her life, if not for Konatsu and Akane.  Konatsu had stood by Ukyou’s side through the whole ordeal, but she was still on the verge of losing it.  Akane decided to reach out to Ukyou and try to become friends with her as well.  They had talked out their differences and Akane reminded her that there were others in the world that would love her.  Ukyou had finally opened her eyes and saw what had been there the whole time, Konatsu waiting and willing to love and cherish her.  After a while Ukyou had become friends with Akane and Ranma.

 

Then the music changed to the wedding march.  All the people who were seated arose to honor the bride to be.  Akane walked in wearing the beautiful white gown she had worn at her and Ranma’s first wedding attempt.  Ranma didn’t care that it was a recycled dress.  She was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and he couldn’t wait to begin spending the rest of their life together.

 

She came to the front of the dojo and stood beside Ranma.  They turned to face each other and they took each other’s hands.  Ranma stared into Akane’s eyes as tears started to form there.

 

“I’m sorry Ranma.” She said in a soft voice.

 

Ranma was a little confused.  “Sorry for what, for crying at your own wedding?  That’s okay.”

 

“I’m sorry I can’t fight it any longer.” She broke the eye contact and shifted her eyes downward.

 

“What?” Ranma had barely spoken the word before Akane threw him away from the front.

 

Akane stood up straight and began to grow. She lifted her hands to spoke in a deep demonic voice, “Now you all die!”

 

A blinding flash of light filled the dojo as the only sound was Ranma shouting, “NOOOOOOooo!”

 

Ranma awoke in his hospital bed.  He rubbed his temples deep in thought.  What the hell?  That’s not how it happened.  What’s going on here?  Ranma did a quick evaluation of himself and found nothing wrong past a few bruises.  Almost as good as new.

 

“Knock, Knock.” Ranko said from the door.

 

            Ranma had been fine until he saw Ranko, then he was in shock!  She stood in the doorway wearing the Juuban High School sailor fuku uniform, but on her it looked like a piece of high fashion crafted just for her.  Her hair was down around shoulder length, brushed out to have good volume.  She had even put makeup on.  Everything about her was absolutely gorgeous.  Ranma now realized why so many guys had fallen in love with his girl half.

 

            Ranko smiled at the stunned Ranma and walked over, knocking on his head.  “You awake in there?”

 

            “You…You…You’re…” Ranma stammered.

 

            “I’m all dressed up, yes.”

 

            “But you’re…You’re…”

 

            “Beautiful?” Ranko gave him a wink.

 

            Ranma could only nod his head.

 

            “Well, you can’t sit around all day gawking at me.  You need to get changed so we can get to school.” She handed him the folded up clothes she had been carrying in her school bag.  Ranma took the clothes, his usual Red shirt and black pants, and asked Ranko to wait outside for him.

 

            “What’s the matter?  I’m you’re sister remember?” Ranko was enjoying teasing the poor boy.

 

            “But…uh…I…” Ranma took a deep breath.  “Just go outside and wait!”

 

            “Okay, but don’t make me wait for long.” She gave him another wink before walking out into the hall and closing the door.

 

            She’s really beautiful!  I never really looked at her as a girl before.  I wonder what Akane would have looked like if she had dressed up?  He shook his head as the last thought brought him back to reality.  I can’t think about Ranko like that.  She’s a youma for crying out loud. 

 

He finished dressing and met Ranko out in the hall.  A bewildered nurse checked Ranma out at the front desk.  She had read the charts and couldn’t believe that the person with those injuries was walking out the next morning after coming out of the emergency room.  She had even called the doctor to verify that this was the same person he had operated on last night.  She went ahead and let them go, but filed his folder in the “too weird” file.

 

After the delay at the checkout, Ranma and Ranko were once again on their way to school.  They made a quick swing by where they had seen Hotaru yesterday, but no one was there. They made their way to the Juuban campus, and Ranko stunned all the guys that were mingling out front. The ones that already had girlfriends were punched into consciousness by their significant other. The senshi saw Ranko and couldn’t believe  their eyes. The boyish redhead in a ponytail was now a stunning woman. Many of the girls were jealous that their fuku suited her so much more than theirs ever did.  Some of them looked at their chests and wished that Kami had gifted them as much as they had Ranko.

 

Ranko loved the attention.  Just think how stunned they’d be to know that only three days ago I would be using this type of beauty to lure them in to steal their heart crystals. 

 

Ranma was following her shaking his head.  Who does she think she is?

 

Much the same thoughts were going through the senshi’s minds.

 

“Is that really Ranko?” Makoto asked.

 

“That’s definitely her.” Minako answered.  “You know any other redheads that keep company with Ranma?”

 

“Good point.”

 

“So when do we want to ask Ranma why he was at the shrine last night?” Usagi asked.

 

“How about after school when we are all there?” Ami suggested.

 

“Okay.”  Usagi looked down at herself.  “Why can’t I look like that in my fuku?” She was almost on the verge of one of her crying fits.

 

Most of the other senshi were on the same train of thought as Usagi except for Ami.  How is he up and around this morning? She thought.  If his wounds were half as bad as Rei told us last night, there should be no possible way for him to be out of bed right now.  He passed out from blood loss!  He cannot heal that fast, can he?  I can’t ask him about it either, because how would we know about it?  I could just say Rei called.

 

Makoto decided to go over and talk with Ranma and Ranko.  As she approached she saw that there were some bruises on Ranma.  “Where did those come from?”

 

“Oh nothing.  I…uh…met some uglies.”

 

Makoto had a confused look on her face.  “Uglies?”

 

“You know.  Youma.  They were attacking this shrine and I didn’t see any senshi, so I went and helped.”

 

“Where was Ranko?  She doesn’t look like she has a scratch.”

 

“I was watching his back.” Ranko piped in.

 

I didn’t see you at all when I got there.  I only saw Ranma on the roof with Rei.  What is your story?  “Looks like you were watching it from afar.”

 

Ranko was starting to get defensive.  “I was covering his back. Okay.  I helped him stop the attack.”

 

“And How did you do That!”

 

Ranma was thinking while the two girls were bickering.  Where was she?  The wards were down.  She could have jumped in at any time.  She wasn’t helping the youma, I hope.  But she keeps insisting she was helping me.  I can tell she isn’t lying; otherwise she wouldn’t have got so defensive like I do when I’m trying to explain something.

 

Ranko and Makoto’s fight was looking like it was about to escalate.  Usagi and the others moved in to try to part the two. 

 

            Usagi put a hand on Makoto’s shoulder.  “Why don’t we get to class before were late?”

 

Makoto turned to the blonde.  “She’s trying to take credit for taking out the youma!”

 

Usagi, in an unusual display of brains, stated simply, “She might have.  WE WEREN’T THERE.”  Makoto got the gist of what she was saying, but was still upset.

 

            Minako used a slightly different tactic on Ranko.  “I love what you’ve done with your hair!  What did you do with it?”  Ranko and Minako then went into a deep discussion on the finer points of hair care.

 

            In the meantime, Ami had approach Ranma.  “Are you all right?  My friend Rei called me and said that you went to the hospital last night.”

 

            Ranma was surprised.  “You’re friends with Rei?  Are you friends with Haruka too?”

 

            “Yes and yes.  But are you okay?”

 

            My life is just one big coincidence.  “Oh I’m fine.  I’ve had worse beatings before.”

 

            “Rei said that you were pretty badly hurt when she found you and you passed out from blood loss.  How are you here today?”

 

            “I heal quick.  It’s a part of my martial arts training.”

 

            Ami stepped up closer to take a closer look at Ranma’s bruises.  They were healing at a rate you could actually see!  If they kept up at the current rate, they would be healed before school was out.  The rate almost matched what she had when she was transformed into Sailor Mercury.  “That’s amazing!  If the medical community could figure out how to do this, it would revolutionize medical care.”

 

            Ranma leaned back a little from the curious teenager.  “Uh…You’re not going to like put me under a microscope or nothing, are you?”

 

            Ami giggled.  “Not at all.  I’m just fascinated with your healing abilities.”

 

            About that time Makoto stormed into the building and off to class.  Usagi turned to see Ami standing so close to Ranma and giggling.  Minako was still chattering away with Ranko, but Ranko was sneaking angry glances toward Ami and Ranma.  What’s her problem?  Usagi thought.  They’re supposed to be brother and sister; Ami talking to Ranma shouldn’t upset her that much.  Maybe she doesn’t like Ami? 

 

            The bell started to toll and the groups quickly broke up into mad dashes toward their classrooms.  Usagi would have to wait until later to get her answers.

 

            The morning classes passed without any significant incidents (besides Ranma falling asleep again).  The lunch tones sounded and everyone filed out to their usual lunch sites.  Ranma and Ranko took their box lunches that Ranko had prepared that morning and sat under one of the large shade trees on the campus.  Minako, Usagi, and Makoto were sitting and chatting about this and that.  Ami was sitting off to the side reading a book and taking small bites from her lunch.  Usagi broke away from the conversation with the other senshi and sat down next to Ami.

 

            Usagi elbowed the studious girl.  “Soooo, Ami.  Aren’t you going to go over there and talk to your boyfriend?”

 

            Ami blushed a deep red and pulled her book closer to her face to hide it.  “It…It’s not like that.  He just fascinates me.  No! That’s not it!” Ami put the book down and planted her face in it and covered her head with her arms.  “It’s strictly professional!”

 

            Usagi smiled at her flustered friend.  “Come on Ami.  He’s cute and you two would look great together.”

 

            “But I don’t want a relationship! I want to be a career woman, not a housewife.  I just want to learn more about him!”

 

            Usagi put a hand on her friend’s shoulder.  “It’s okay Ami-Chan.  I don’t think Ranma would get in the way of you being a doctor.”

 

            “It’s not like that!”

 

Their conversation went like that for the remaining lunch period.  Minako had decided that it was her turn to make a pass at Ranma.  She casually excused herself from her conversation with Makoto and walked over to where Ranma was sitting under his tree.  Ranko was nowhere to be seen.  Minako had noticed early on that it was sometimes hard to see and hear when Ranma and Ranko came or went.  She walked up and sat down beside Ranma.

 

“Hello Ranma.  My name’s Minako.”

 

“Yeah, you introduced yourself yesterday.” Ranma hadn’t even really looked at her.  He just kept staring toward the sky.

 

“I heard about your fight last night.  You must be pretty good to take on youma by yourself.”

 

Ranma turned and looked at her.  “Are you friends with Haruka as well?”  Minako just nodded her head.  “Okay, How many are going to be there today?”

 

Minako did some quick counting on her fingers.  “Nine. Why?”

 

Ranma slapped his forehead.  “How many of them are women?”

 

“Eight.”

 

Ranma slapped himself again.  He hadn’t been completely oblivious to the girl’s interest in him; he also had a track record of having women falling for him in the most inopportune times.  “I knew there was a reason why I didn’t want to do this!”

 

Minako got a playful hurt look on her face.  “Oh come on.  We’re not that bad.”  She slid a little bit closer to him.   “You afraid of cooties?”

 

“If I was afraid of that I wouldn’t have gotten married.” He held up is his hand showing her the wedding band.

 

“I heard about your wife.  I’m sorry.  Nobody should have to go through that, but you have to stop mourning sometime and get on with your life.”

 

Ranma shook his head.  Well, I guess I never told Ami to keep it a secret.  “I just don’t need more women in my life right now.”

 

“Why not?  Ranko giving you problems?”

 

“No, No.  Do you have any idea what kind of life I went through before coming here?”

 

“No.” Minako sat up on her knees with an interested expression on her face.  “Tell me about it.”

 

“I had three fiancées and several other women chasing after me.  I finally managed to clear most of them away and marry the one I loved, but I never want to be in that position again!  I barely escaped with my life the first time.”

 

“Three fiancées?  How in the world did that happen?”

 

“You REALLY don’t want to know.”

 

“Yes I do!” Minako was almost bubbling with anticipation of finding out about this mysterious and powerful man.

 

“Okay, you asked for it.” Ranma took a second to figure out what exactly he was going to tell this blonde.  How do I tell my life’s story and exclude my girl side?  Shampoo will be pretty hard to explain.  He scratched his head a second and came up with what he thought was a decent story.  “Well I guess I’ll start with my wife Akane.  It started as an arranged marriage between our fathers.  They were both students under Happosai the master of Anything Goes Martial Arts.  They made a deal when they were young that they would marry their children to unite their clans and schools.” 

 

Minako had shifted a little uncomfortably at the mention of arranged marriages, but insisted that Ranma go on.  “My second fiancé was an okonomiyaki chef.  You see, my dad took me …uh… and Ranko, away from my mother so that we could train in the art abroad.  While I was still little, my dad traded me for an okonomiyaki cart.”

 

“Traded you?”

 

“Me and Ukyou, my second fiancé, had been good friends when we were little and her father thought that I should marry her.  Pop told him that I already had a fiancé, but he said that he’d throw in the cart.  Bam:  Instant fiancé.”

 

“You’re father didn’t have many scruples, did he?”

 

“Now that you mention it:  No he didn’t.  But what could I do?  He was my dad.”

 

“You mentioned that you had three fiancées.  Who was the third?”

 

“On the same training journey we stopped by this Amazon village.  I…uh…Ranko entered into this fighting contest.  She beat this girl named Shampoo.”  Minako chuckled a bit at that.  “You’ll laugh even harder when I tell you her great-grandmother and first suitor’s names.”

 

“And what were they?  Conditioner and Hairspray?”

 

“Close.  Cologne and Mousse.” 

 

Minako rolled over laughing.  Ranma couldn’t help but smile at the blonde.  Minako finally came back to herself.  “I’m sorry (snicker).  Continue the story.”

 

“Well part of Amazon law is that if you are beat by a woman from the outside, you had to kill her.  Shampoo followed us all over China trying to kill Ranko.  We thought we had lost her when we came back home to Japan, but she found us in Nerima.  I got mad when she tried to attack Akane and I defeated her.  This triggered another Amazon law:  If a man from the outside defeats you, you must marry him.  Hence three fiancées.”

 

“But why didn’t you get mad when she was attacking Ranko?  Don’t you care about the life of your sister?”

 

“Uh…well…Ranko can take care of herself.  She’s almost a good a fighter as me.  It wasn’t really a problem until Shampoo attacked Akane.”

 

“But still…”

 

“Hey! Isn’t that Makoto over there?  She looks pretty pissed.”

 

Minako turned to see Makoto standing there with the angriest expression she had ever seen on the brunette.  If she had been trained in the martial arts like Ranma had, she would have seen the red aura emanating from the girl.  “Um…I better go.  Talk to you later, Ranma.”

 

Ranma cracked a smile.  “Yeah. Later.”

 

Minako went over to Makoto and Ranma just watched as the two girls started to throw verbal assaults at each other.  He caught a few bits of the conversation like, “You said you were going to the bathroom” and “I never got a chance to talk to him”.  Ranma was just glad he wasn’t physically in the middle of it.  Images of mallets began to play through his head.  About that time a lunch-sized loaf of bread landed in his lap.  He looked up to see Ranko standing over him chewing on an identical loaf.

 

“Whaff’s wiff dem?” She muttered with her mouth full.

 

“I may have ditched the Josenkyo curse, but my fiancé curse will follow me to my grave.  Well be teaching eight women after school.  This is not going to be fun.”

 

Ranko swallowed her mouthful.  “Well, at least you’ll get some money and a tutor out of the deal.”

 

“Speaking of which, who do you think will be my tutor?”

 

Ranko took another bite.  “Don know.  Welf see.”

 

 

 

The audience chamber of the Castle of Hela in the Negaverse was filled with unease.  The lesser youma stood around the outside shifting back and forth nervously.  In the center of the room, where once there were four, were now three youma lieutenants, all once again kneeling before their queen.  The queen was upset at the loss of another of her ‘children’.  “Arcades Sabboth are your youma ready for battle?”

 

The onyx warrior rose up. “They are prepared, my queen.”

 

“We must prepare our heart crystal gathering operation in earnest.  I need to be able to send my kingdom to Earth to destroy the Moon Kingdom forever.”

 

“Your majesty!”

 

Queen Adamantia turned to another of her lieutenants.  This was a woman with blue skin dressed in a darker blue body armor.  “What do you want Palladia-Mors?”

 

“I would ask that you allow me to begin the collection operations while Arcades stages his assault.  He will attack the shrine again to draw out the Senshi, and I can begin collecting on the other side of the city.”

 

“Very good plan, Palladia.  Collect them and we can begin draining the energy from them.  And Arcades…”

 

“Your majesty?”

 

“I will send one of my personal youma to observe your battle.  I will find out why I have lost two of my faithful servants.”

 

“Yes, your majesty.” Arcades bowed and teleported from the room.

 

Queen Adamantia turned to her last lieutenant.  This youma was composed of fire, a youma torch.  “Vaevictis Asmadi, begin preparing your youma for battle.  You will stage your assault if Arcades fails.”

 

“Your majesty, I will need more heart crystals to power them.”

 

“Assist Palladia in the collection while Arcades makes his assault.  Prepare your warriors and do not fail me!”

 

The fire youma bowed once more.  “Yes, your majesty.”

 

 

 

School finished with little mishap.  Makoto was still a little miffed at Minako for trying to make a pass at Ranma.  Usagi was mad at both of them for not considering Ami’s feelings.  Ami just kept insisting that it was all right, that her interest was purely medical curiosity.  The four senshi made their way to the Hikawa Shrine, while Ranma and Ranko went to their apartment so that Ranko could change into something more appropriate to train in.  She settled on a pair of red shorts and a black tank top.

 

At the shrine the Sailor Senshi were all gathered (minus Pluto).  The moon cats were there as well.  They wanted to see this Ranma that had most the senshi hot and bothered.  Most of the senshi were dressed in their gym outfits while Rei wore almost an identical outfit to Ranko’s.

 

Ranma and Ranko finally arrived.  Rei hadn’t had the time to restore the wards, so Ranko could enter the grounds.  Ranma was relieved to have someone at his back with eight women waiting for him.  In fact he was fine until he saw the new students companions.  Ranma and Ranko froze in place a look of sheer terror in their faces and sounded off simultaneously, “C-C-C-CA-CATS!” They quickly turned on their heels and bolted away from the shrine.

 

The senshi had heard both their cries and only stood there dumbly while the two Saotomes ran from the shrine.  Ami finally snapped out of her stupor and started running after them. Makoto, Minako, and Hotaru followed shortly after.  Usagi and the rest were just standing there still not quite understanding what had happened.

 

Ami caught up with Ranma and Ranko.  Ranko had Ranma pinned to a brick wall with her left hand holding him by the throat and her right hand was slapping him repeatedly.  She was chanting over and over, “This is all your fault!”

 

Ranma was trying to guard his face with his hands and trying to get the redhead to calm down.  “Hey! Hey!  It’s not my fault! It was all pop’s idea!”

 

Ami could tell that this scene had been repeating itself over and over since they had split from the shrine.  Ranma was starting to bruise.  “What’s going on here?  Why did you guys run from the shrine?”

 

Ranko finally came to her senses and let go of Ranma.  He quickly took a deep intake of breath.  Ranma shook himself a little and started looking down and scratching the back of his head.  “It’s kinda embarrassing…”

 

Ranko took a deep breath as well and steeled herself.  “We’re both deathly afraid of cats.”

 

“Ailurophobia?  How did that happen?”

 

Ranko took a look at Ranma and saw him still in the same position, not willing to really explain what had happened.  Ranko just took another deep breath and continued, “When we were little our father wrapped us both in fish sausages and dropped us into a pit of starving cats, over and over.”

 

Ami put her hand over her mouth in shock.  “That’s terrible!  How could anyone do that to their children!”

 

Ranma finally spoke.  “The Neko-Ken.”

 

Ami turned to him.  “The what?”

 

About that time the other senshi arrived.  Hotaru saw Ranma’s face and went straight over to him.  She reached up and put her hands on his bruises and they immediately began to disappear.  “What happened to you?  Why did you run?”

 

Ranma felt his pain disappear, as if it had never been there in the first place.  “How did you do that?”

 

“Do what?”

 

“You healed me.”

 

“That’s my power.  That’s why everybody picks on my like I’m a freak.”

 

“That’s nothing freakish.”  In fact that’s pretty tame compared to some of the Josenkyo curses.

 

Makoto stepped up.  “So what happened?”

 

Ami pulled Minako and Makoto aside and whispered to them,  “I’ll explain later you guys go back and tell Usagi to stash Luna out of sight.  Minako, you need to do the same with Artemis.  Make sure that they stay hidden until we’re done training.”

 

Minako and Makoto just looked at her in confusion but nodded their heads and went back toward the shrine.

 

Ami turned back to Hotaru and Ranma.  She hadn’t let go of him yet.  “I think that we can go back to the shrine now.  I told them to take the cats home.  Hotaru, I think he’s healed now.”

 

Hotaru dropped her hands to her side and blushed.  “Okay Ami-Chan.”

 

Ranko shrugged her shoulders.  “Let’s get back and start training.”  She turned and started walking back toward the shrine.  The others followed behind her.

 

Back at the shrine Minako and Makoto had arrived and told Luna and Artemis to stay out of sight and not to make a sound.  They nodded their heads and hid beneath the shrine.  The other senshi, Ranma, and Ranko followed shortly afterward.  Ranma and Ranko looked around cautiously to make sure that there were no cats around.

 

Ranma turned to Ami.  “Are you sure they’re not coming back.”

 

Ami nodded her head.  “I’m sure.  They are really well behaved cats.”

 

“Okay then I guess we can get started.”

 

Haruka stepped forward.  She was wearing a more revealing gym outfit of shorts and t-shirt.  Ranma could definitely tell that she was a woman now.  “So you’ve decided to teach all of us?”

 

“I guess so.  I’ve met you all except for this guy.” He pointed to Mamoru.

 

Usagi put her arm around Mamoru.  “This is my boyfriend, Chiba Mamoru.”

 

Mamoru blushed slightly and extended his hand.  “Nice to meet you Ranma.  I saw you and Ranko practicing in the park while I was jogging.  I was very impressed.”

 

Ranma shook his hand.  “Thanks, glad to have you aboard.”  Ranma released the hand and turned to everyone else.  “Okay, everyone gather up over here.”  The senshi and Mamoru gathered in front of Ranma.  “Now, let’s see your stances.”  Everyone dropped into their fighting stances.  Ranma walked among them and examined their forms.  Mamoru had a good start; with some minor corrections he would be good.  Haruka was in the same position.  She’d obviously practiced before.  He took a couple of looks at Makoto and stepped in front of her.  “Brawler?”

 

Makoto just looked at him.  “What?”

 

“I can tell you’ve fought a lot, but it doesn’t look like you’ve had much training.  That makes you a brawler or street fighter.”

 

“Yeah, I guess so.”

 

Ranma continued his inspection.  He winced a little as he walked by Usagi and Ami.  They obviously had no clue about fighting and martial arts.  Minako seemed to be off to a decent start, but a ways behind Haruka and Mamoru.  Hotaru and Michiru were slightly behind Minako.  He decided to turn most of them over to Ranko.  Usagi and Ami were going to have to be his personal project.  This was going to take a while.

 

Ranma took Ami and Usagi aside and had them try their stances again.  He went over both of them, moving an arm here, a leg there, trying to get them into a good stance.  Usagi fell down more than once while he was trying to get her to stand in a good position.  Ami on the other hand was a fast learner.  Once she had some instruction, she could pick it up quickly.  Ranma was starting to enjoy his first real teaching experience.  He vowed to himself that he would not teach like his father, but would encourage his students when they were having a hard time.

 

Ami on the other hand was thrilled for other reasons.  Although she would never admit it to the other senshi, she definitely had some feelings for the pig-tailed martial artist.  She couldn’t believe that the same hands that could punch holes in youma could be so gentle and helpful.  All these feelings were very new to Ami, but she didn’t mind one bit.

 

Usagi was on the verge of tears.  She couldn’t even hold a decent stance after a half an hour of training.  Ranma finally got her to hold a stance, but when he tried to get her to punch, she shifted her weight too awkwardly and she fell flat on her face. 

 

Usagi started to cry on the ground, “I’ll never get this right!”

 

Ranma knelt down beside her.  “It’s okay Usagi.  You just need to relax.  If you’re less tense you’ll do better.  You’ll get it eventually.”

 

“But it’ll be forever!” A fresh stream of tears began to fall.

 

Ami walked up to Usagi and put a hand on her shoulder.  “Come on Usagi-Chan, just relax.  Ranma’s right, you’ll never accomplish anything if you’re so tense.  You don’t have to learn everything today, Ranma will be giving us lessons for weeks.”  She turned to face Ranma.  “Right, Ranma?”

 

Ranma nodded his head.  “It’s okay, really.  I think we’ll try breaking it down to the basics and I’ll start you off with just walking like a martial artist.” Ranma demonstrated by bending his knees a little bit and leveling his shoulders.  He started to walk by shifting his weight and pulling with his forward leg instead of pushing with his rear leg.  The whole time his shoulders were perfectly level.  “This is what I’m talking about. You can just work on this.  This will help you with your balance and it will help you with the fighting techniques I’m going to teach you.  Do you think you can handle that?”

 

Usagi dried her tears and nodded her head.  “I’ll try.”  She bent her knees and tried leveling her shoulders.  She still stumbled around, but now she didn’t fall.  The low center of gravity of the walking style helped her to stay upright.  But this looks sooo embarrassing!  She thought.

 

“You’re doing good Usagi.  Just keep practicing that.  As soon as you get that down I’ll show you more.”  Ranma turned to face Ami and smiled at her.  She nervously returned the smile.  “Now for you, Ami.  I can tell that you are a very fast learner.  I’ll have you whipped into shape and into Ranko’s group in no time.”

 

Ami bowed graciously.  “Thank you, Ranma-San.”

 

“Just keep it to Ranma.”  Ranma went on to help her learn a few katas while Usagi continued to just learn how to walk.

 

Ranko was having her own problems with the other senshi.  Michiru, Haruka, and Mamoru were no problem at all.  They already had some good skills and were quick and receptive on new techniques.  The other girls on the other hand were getting to be unruly.  They kept on complaining about Ami and Usagi getting special attention from Ranma.  More of their anger was focused on Ami than Usagi.  They all wanted ‘special training with Ranma’.  Ranko had Mamoru and Haruka sparring switching off with Michiru trading in with either person from time to time.  She decided to see what kind of stuff these whiny babies were made of.  She told Rei to step up.  Rei made and awkward (to Ranko) charge.  Ranko just stood there with her hands behind her back and waited for the raven-haired girl to get close enough.  When Rei was just a few centimeters away, Ranko turned and swept Rei off her feet, depositing her on her back on the ground.  Then Ranko called Minako to attack.  Different attack, same result.  She then told Makoto to try. Makoto charged forward and jumped at the last minute to avoid the leg sweep.  While she was in the air she tried for a kick to Ranko’s head.  Ranko simply leaned back almost to an impossible angle and righted herself as Makoto landed.  Makoto started throwing a series of close-range punches at the redhead. Ranko dodged all of them without moving her feet.  Ranko finally ended it by doing a freestanding leap over Makoto’s head and landed behind her.  Ranko kicked the brunette in the back of the right knee.  Makoto fell flat on her back.  Ranko turned and called for Hotaru.  Hotaru just shook her head and declined.

 

“I think I’ll listen to you.” She said plainly.

 

“Good choice.”

 

The training continued apace until that evening.  The sun started to set in the west and the senshi were showing definite signs of tiring.  Ranma and Ranko wrapped up their training for the day. 

 

Ranma walked up to Haruka.  “I don’t really care about the money, but this has really cut into my study time.  Where’s the tutor you promised?”

 

Haruka had been watching Ranma and Ami out of the corner of her eye most of the time.  “It’s Ami-Chan.  She’s the smartest girl at Juuban High.”

 

Ranma wasn’t too dismayed by the prospect, but didn’t let and emotion show.  “Okay. I guess I should get her number or something.”

 

As Ranma approached Ami, a blast of energy hit the center of the courtyard, throwing people everywhere.  From the front gates of the shrine walked in five figures. Four of them were the beetle looking youma that Ranma and Ranko fought before.  The fifth figure was a woman that was completely black, except for her white shining eyes.  “These will do, my pets.  Take their crystals and let’s be on our way.”

 

“Arcades Sabboth.” Ranko said under her breath.

 

The youma began to chase the humans around the yard. Usagi and Ami ducked behind the shrine.  Usagi reached for her brooch, but Ami grabbed her wrist before she could activate it.  “Why did you stop me?” Usagi asked.

 

“We can’t just transform with Ranma here.  Won’t it look a little strange that two of us disappear and two Sailor Senshi appear?”

 

“Well, how are we going to stop those youma?”

 

“I don’t like it, but only one of us can go out there.”

 

“Which one of us should go?”

 

“You should go, you’ve have the greater power.  I can help you through our communicators.”

 

“Okay.”  Ami released Usagi’s hand and she held her brooch high.  “Moon Prism Power Make Up!”  In a flash of colored lights, Sailor Moon was on the scene.

 

Back out front, Ranma was running interference, keeping the youma busy while Ranko scooped up their students and deposited them on the Shrine’s roof.  After they were all secure, she jumped down and joined Ranma.  They stood back-to-back blocking and parrying blows.

 

“Why don’t we do the same thing we did at the mall?” Ranma yelled over his shoulder while dodging a blow from one of the attacking youma.

 

“Take a look at the shoulder joints.  They’re armored now.  We’ll have to think of something else.”  Ranko responded while knocking away a haymaker from another youma.

 

Ranma blocked another blow from his side.  “Why don’t we just stall until the Sailor Senshi arrive?”

 

“What do you think we’re doing?”

 

Ranma decided to go for broke and see if he could punch through one of the armored youma like he did at the mall.  “Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken!” He landed several chestnut fist strikes, but he only got bruised knuckles for his trouble.  “We have a problem Ranko!”

 

Ranko shook her head.  “You idiot!  These are much stronger than the one we fought before.  We’ll have to figure out something quick or we’ll be dead before the senshi arrive.

 

Most of the senshi in question were watching the battle from the roof.  They were too well exposed up there to transform and they’d blow their identities immediately if they did.

 

One ray of hope came from the side.  “Shinto Shrines are a place to honor your ancestors and pray, not a place for vandalism.”  The youma turned to see Sailor Moon standing there with her scepter at the ready.  “In the name of the Moon, I will punish you!  Moon Healing Escalation!” A blast of light shot towards one of the youma, and deflected off.

 

“You didn’t think I wouldn’t be ready for that.” Arcades laughed from the sidelines.  “You’ll have to do better than that to defeat my creations.

 

Ranko was saw the attack and knew that she had the power to transform into her more powerful youma form, but she didn’t want Ranma, and especially Sailor Moon, to know that she could still access those powers.  She finally came up with a plan.  “Ranma, go over and cover sailor moon for a while.  I’ve got a plan!”

 

“Good!” With that they each jumped into the air.  Ranko landed on the roof next to the other senshi and Ranma landed by Sailor Moon.  The youma were starting to close in on the girl.  Ranma put his hands together.  “Moko Takabisha!”  He sent a Ki bolt into the ground in front of the youma causing them to take slow their progress.

 

“Try your tiara, Sailor Moon,” a voice came from Sailor Moon’s direction.  “You may have more success with a physical attack.”

 

“Who’s that?” Ranma asked.

 

“Sailor Mercury.  She helping me out.”

 

“Why isn’t she here?  We could use all the help we can get.”

 

“She’s…uh…home sick.”

 

Back from her hiding place Ami slapped her forehead. 

 

“Nevermind that, I’ve got to try my attack.”  Sailor Moon took the tiara from her head and it formed into a discus.  “Moon Tiara Action!”  The tiara went forward and bounced off each of the youma and did no damage.

 

“Great attack.  What next, you going to throw a shoe at them?”

 

“You’re not doing much either!”

 

A youma went to hammer punch Sailor Moon.  Ranma tackled her out of the way in the nick of time.  “I just saved your life.” Ranma grabbed Moon around the waist and leapt toward the front of the shrine.

 

Meanwhile, Ranko found Minako on the roof.  “Where’s your c-c-cat!  I know you didn’t have time to take it home!”

 

“He’s under the shrine, why?”

 

“I need you to throw it on Ranma!”

 

“This is not the time for a practical joke!”

 

Ranko grabbed the blonde by the front of her shirt and hauled her up and off her feet.  “Just do it!  It may be our only chance without the other senshi here!  Just get that c-cat to latch onto Ranma and make sure he stays there!”

 

Minako nodded her head.  “I’ll need help getting down there.”

 

Ranko scooped her up in her arms and jumped down to the ground and dropped Minako.  With a little ‘oof’ Minako got up and Ranko jumped back to the roof.  “Why don’t you stay down here and help?” Minako yelled at Ranko.

 

“One of us has to stay sane!” Ranko yelled back.

 

Whatever that means, Minako thought.  She crouched down and yelled under the porch.  “Artemis!  Get over here!”

 

The white moon cat ran over to Minako.  “What’s up?  I thought you needed us to stay put to keep Ranma from freaking out.”

 

“Ranko apparently wants Ranma to freak out.  She told me to put you on him and make sure you didn’t let go.”

 

“This is no time for a practical joke.”

 

“Ranko thinks it’s our only chance.  Haruka said her plan worked at the mall, maybe we should trust her here.”

 

“Okay, just throw me at him.”

 

“Just don’t let go!”

 

About that time Ranma landed a couple meters away carrying an almost crying Sailor Moon.  He dropped Moon and caught an object that Minako threw at him.  It instantly hit him what was in his hands.  “C-C-CAT!”  Artemis leapt from the boy’s hands and latched onto his face.  Ranma began running around like a raving lunatic.  He started weaving in and out of the youma faster than they could grab for him.  Finally Ranma stopped  in front of the shrine and fell to his hands and knees.  “MEEEEOOOWWW.”

 

Moon looked at Minako.  “Did he just ‘meow’?”

 

Minako could only stand there dumbly while the boy started walking on his hands and feet like a cat.  He arched his back and hissed at the youma.  Artemis was so freaked out that he had let go after the first meow.

 

Ranma leapt at the first youma.  It put its hand forward to catch the incoming human.  Ranma just cut straight through his arm and then landed behind it.  He then turned and jumped again, this time making a hole through the middle of the youma.

 

Arcades was dumbstruck!  “That’s impossible!  How could a mere human go through my perfect armor like that?”

 

Ranma then started stalking the next youma.  Ami came out from the side of the house and joined the stunned blondes and moon cat.   One word that Ranko spoke came back to mind.  “Neko-Ken.”

 

The two girls and cat turned and looked at Ami.  “What did you say?”

 

“That must be the Neko-Ken, or Cat’s fist, that Ranko was telling me about.  It must have been the training for this technique that made him so deathly afraid of cats.”

 

While they were talking, Ranma had dispatched two more of the lesser youma and was chasing the other one around the yard.  Youma may be dumb, but they weren’t stupid. It recognized the threat that Ranma presented and ran.  Ranma played cat and mouse with it for a while and finally pounced.  Ranma tore into youma’s back and shredded it like an expensive couch.  After the youma stopped moving, Ranma sat down on top of it and started cleaning himself, drawing a lot of ‘ewws’ from the people watching.

 

Ami nudged Sailor Moon in the side.  “Finish off the last one quick!”

 

Moon nodded her head.  “Moon Healing Escalation!”

 

The bolt of energy flew toward the black youma.  She dodged at the last instant.  “You may have won this one senshi, but I will return!”  After that, the black youma teleported away.  All but one of the minor youma turned to dust; including the one Ranma was sitting one.  He landed with a small ‘mrow?”

 

“Well my work here is done!” Sailor Moon bounded out of the shrine.  She made a wide arc, turned back into Usagi and snuck in from the back of the shrine.

 

Ranko told Minako to put the cat away.  Artemis went back under the house with Luna without Minako relaying the message.  Ranko then ferried the others down from the roof.  “Where’s Usagi?” She asked.

 

“She had to use the restroom.” Ami volunteered.  “She’ll be back in a little bit.”

 

As if on cue, Usagi walked up from around the house.  Ranko raised an eyebrow at the blonde.  “Were you going to the restroom in the bushes Usagi?”

 

Usagi sweatdropped and started to scratch her head with a nervous grin on her face.  “I’ll get you for this Ami.” She said under her breath.

 

“So how do we get Ranma back to himself?”  Ami asked.

 

Ranko winked at the blue-haired girl.  “Just watch this!”  She turned around and walked a few paces toward Ranma.  “Here kitty, kitty!  Come to momma.”

 

Ranma turned his head and noticed the group of people for the first time.  He loped his way toward the group.  Ranko held out her arms ready to catch him.  Ranma leapt past her and tackled Ami and dropped her to the ground.  Ranma just curled up in Ami’s lap and started to purr.

 

Ranko started to glow a sickly green.

 

The other crowded around Ami.  They saw Ranma rub up against a blushing Ami.  “You guys will be kind enough not to mention this to anyone, right?” Ami asked.

 

Most of the girls had a furious look in their eyes while Usagi had a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin on her face. 

 

“SHISHI HOKOUDAN!” The other turned just in time to see the remaining youma, which had moved a coupled of centimeters, vaporized.  Ranko didn’t even turn to face them. She just started walking out of the shrine.  “When Ranma comes to, tell him I went home.” She said over her shoulder to no one in particular.

 

As she was walking out, a sixth youma teleported away from his hiding place.

 

After a little while Ranma finally came to and found himself in Ami’s lap.  He immediately jumped up.  “What’d I do?  Whatever it was, I didn’t mean it!”

 

Ami smiled at him.  “You defeated all the youma. Are you saying you didn’t want to do that?”

 

“That’s all I did?”

 

“Yes.”

 

            “I didn’t do anything embarrassing while I was coming to, did I?”

 

            “Like what?”

 

            “Nothing.  Forget I said anything.  Where’d Ranko go?”

 

            “She said she went home.  She seemed rather put off.”

 

            “Why was she mad?”

 

            “Because you jumped into Ami’s lap instead of hers.” Hotaru said from the side.

 

            Oh boy, am I going to get it.  Ranma thought.  “Uh, thanks Hotaru-Chan.  I think I better catch up with her.  I’ll see you guys later.  Ami I’ll talk to you tomorrow about the tutoring stuff, okay?”  Ami nodded her head.  “Okay, bye.” Ranma turned and bolted out of the shrine.

 

            The others just stood there dumbly as he tore out of the shrine.  Mamoru scratched his head.  “I think we missed something here.”

 

 

 

            The atmosphere at Hela castle was a lot more hostile than the one on earth.  Her lieutenant and her personal youma had returned, the former in failure.  “What happened Arcades?  You only needed to dispatch two humans and maybe some senshi.”

 

            “My queen, your youma saw the whole thing.  She can project what happened.”

 

            Adamantia nodded toward the silent youma.  She stepped forward and a beam of light projected from her forehead.  It ended in a circular screen that began to replay the events as they had occurred only a short time ago.  Adamatia saw Ranma and Ranko fighting the youma and the ineffective Sailor Moon trying to help.  She then saw Ranma destroy Arcades’ armored youma.  “So he survives.” The dark queen mumbled under her breath.  “I knew I should have killed him, but something stopped me.”  She instructed the youma to focus in on the redhead.  “And who are you my little redhead, and why are you wearing Ranma’s face?”

 

            Arcades could only stare with a confused look on his face as his queen began to muse over the images before her.  The two other lieutenants teleported into the chamber.  Queen Adamnatia removed her gaze from the portal and looked at the new arrivals.  “Were you successful in your missions?”

 

Palladia-Mors knelt at her feet.  “Yes, my queen.”

 

“Unbelievably successful.”  Vaevictis Asmadi knelt as well.  “There wasn’t a senshi in sight and we retrieved enough to create my youma and to begin the energy harvest.  If we can make two more successful raids like this one, we will have more than enough power to banish the moon kingdom forever!”

 

“Very good.” Queen Adamantia grinned a feral, sinister smile.  “We will succeed where my mother failed so many times.  The universe will be rid of the Sailor Senshi and Queen Serenity, and we will rule the universe and the negaverse!”

 

The lieutenants and lesser youma all cheered at the tops of their lungs.  They were ready to march on the universe and burn it to the ground!

 

 

 

Back in the normal world Ranma caught up with Ranko a few blocks from their apartment.  Ranko was just standing there with her hand covering her mouth.  Ranma put a hand on her shoulder.  “What’s wrong?”  Ranko could only point.

 

Ranma followed the direction Ranko indicated and saw a multitude of people laying all over the street dead.  Ranma couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  He could see that many of them were physically unhurt, but he felt no Ki from any of them.  Suddenly he thought of Akane and how she was when he had found her.  “Kami!  Who could do such a thing?”

 

“More youma.  The attack on the shrine was just a diversion, but there was only one senshi there.  Where were the others?  They should have stopped them!” Ranko was almost shaking from the sight.  Police arrived and started investigating the crime scene.  Ranko and Ranma quickly faded from site, using the Uma-Sen-Ken technique.  They were unprepared to answer any questions that local authorities might have had.  The news crews arrived shortly after they disappeared.

 

Back at their individual houses, the Sailor Senshi and Mamoru saw the news and immediately knew what had happened.  They all couldn’t believe what had happened.  They should have been there.  They should have done something.  They shouldn’t have just sat there dumbly while Ranma was fighting the youma.  They all knew they needed to get stronger, but at what cost?  They couldn’t blow their cover with Ranma, could they?